I dedicate this blog to comics in all forms, manga, autobio, superhero, art books, etc. And of course, since I need a challenge, I've decided that I'll read and write (short) reviews for 365 comics during 2015.
Love at Fourteen volumes 2&3 despite focusing on the very tame and sweet first romance between second year students Kanata and Kazuki, had a few plot elements that made me a bit uncomfortable.
The story does spend most it's time on the typical scenes that could exist in any 14 year old's diary. Secrets, fights, fears and friendships at school. Kanata and Kazuki want to hide the fact that they like each other more than just as friends. They already feel like they are held to a different standard than their peers based on their reputations as "mature." They don't want the fact that they've also dispensed with the whole 'cooties' thing to add an even greater distance between them and their classmates.
Past Kanata and Kazuki's narrative some side characters come into the spotlight over these two volumes.
One of those characters is a student that had been pegged as a trouble-maker, who finds himself getting attention from the music teacher and becoming less disruptive. The relationship between the fourteen year old student and the teacher while not explicit, did make me uncomfortable, especially since it's never really confronted. It's obvious that both student and teacher know that their relationship is inappropriate, they go to lengths to hide it, but somehow it feels like the author is condoning it, saying, hey it's okay for an adult woman to sexually harass a fourteen year old boy. It's not.
That's one side, I really was uncomfortable with that depiction and the message that it's ok for adult authority figures to act this way.
The other thing was the side story of another character introduced in these volumes. She is another classmate of Kanata and Kazuki and is starting to realize her feelings for Kanata too. I thought it was a nice way to show her thinking through her feelings, first trying to place herself and Kanata into the expected roles, what if Kanata were a guy? She dismisses the thought, since she's attracted to Kanata as a girl. What if she were a guy? She dismisses that thought, because she identifies as a girl and wouldn't want to be a guy, thinking to herself, "no, that won't work." Finally she comes to the conclusion "It's good that we're both girls." I think that's good to see, especially in mainstream manga, where relationships, especially with same-sex couples, are not depicted realistically at all.
Overall the series is sweet, though with these bizarre messages that on one hand are good and on the other hand leave me wondering what the author is trying to say. I just don't think that depicting pedophilia should be done so casually. Maybe that's just me.